Rwanda kayaking holiday and gorilla safari

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Rwanda is the most densely populated countries in Africa, yet it is also one of the continent’s success stories for conservation. Nyungwe forest is home to some 310 bird species, butterflies, orchids, centuries old trees and 75 mammals including 13 primates. A walk here is a spectacular journey in the largest surviving example of an Afro Montane ecosystem, one of the oldest continuously forested locations on Earth.

The Rwandan government has made wildlife protection a priority and gives 10% of all wildlife permits back to local communities to support their development and grass roots nature conservation. They are expanding the national parks, planting trees and guard the wildlife to prevent poaching. The It is as a direct result of this approach that mountain gorilla numbers are rising; they are no longer critically endangered.

Our trips are different because we take visitors into some other special, almost undiscovered corners of the country. During our kayaking adventures on the clear blue waters of Lake Kivu – the largest lake in Africa that naturally has not a single hippo or crocodile – we meet the fishermen at sunset as they paddle out onto the lake to cast their nets overnight, singing as they go. We get close to nature passing uninhabited islands that are a haven for birds and other small wildlife and surrounded by lush green hills everywhere we go, and we witness a rural way of life that is missed by people who drive past. And sometimes we see Congo clawless otters…

On the Mukungwa River, near Musazne, whilst they’re shy and so only occasionally make an appearance, you may be lucky enough to see Spotted Necked Otters in the river. Fortunately these playful mammals are not endangered like their rather larger primate neighbours, however, as the top natural predator, they are a crucial part of the entire local ecosystem. Sadly some local people see the otters a competitor for the fish that they are catching for their own consumption, so we are doing several things to help create positive change. Firstly we employ local people who support every trip that we run. We pay them a fair wage for the help they provide per trip, so they and their communities benefit the success of this trip – and they know we come partly for the birds and wildlife that we see here, so this creates an informal sense of local ownership and responsibility.

However, we know we can do so much more. So at the time of writing in 2019 we are in the process of establishing a partnership with Dr Olivier Nsengimana and the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association. By the end of the year, we intend to have in place a community programme near the Mukungwa River and extending this model further, with local community engagement and support from the government and district leaders, we’re setting about re-wilding a few small, uninhabited islands that we visit whilst kayaking in Lake Kivu. This has the dual benefits of being great for wildlife and also providing us with a shady spot to sit under when having lunch!

In more practical terms, whilst Rwanda was the first country in the world to make plastic bags illegal (so don’t bring any) we have abolished single use plastic waste from our lunches – we now give all our suppliers reusable boxes for them to put our lunches in and when practical on some of our trips, we sometimes use banana tree leaves. We also support a local start-up called Jibu (which means “the answer”) that supplies drinking water in large reusable bottles – and we are telling all our suppliers to do the same. So, whilst we can't yet claim to have eliminated single use plastic from everything we do, if you bring your own bottle we will refill it for you free of charge. And I have a small request; if you come on this trip, please make a big deal about refilling your bottle to everyone you meet and help us make it part of the culture.

The Impacts of this Trip

Our trip provider Steve has a story to tell. when you’ve spent any time in Africa you’ll know that it gets in your blood! Indeed, when I backpacked my way around the continent in the ‘90s, don’t ask me why, but I knew it would be my passion, my mission and my dream. So, some 25 years later, when by chance I returned to Rwanda for what I thought would be a couple of years, I spotted and opportunity to do something special…

In the mean time I’d become a coach and advanced water leader, so I trained local tour guides to become qualified British Canoeing Paddlesport Leaders like Gratien and Eloi so that they could not only lead kayaking and canoeing trips, but do so to recognised international standards. Now with a great team on the ground, the small company I set up is expanding this approach to other activities including walking trekking and mountain biking with the goal that adventure tourism in Rwanda will become well known and respected around the world. It’s not only about the magnificent landscapes or having the right equipment, rather we are supporting the Rwandan people to become the best that they can be and proving that they can excel and succeed on their own merit.

And that is a principle that also underpins the community experiences that we offer in partnership with an amazing organisation called Azizi Life. A true social enterprise, their purpose is to positively impact rural communities in Rwanda by providing regular work and fair wage income to the people they consider to be their “partner” artisans. This income empowers the artisans to raise their families out of poverty: Children become the first in their families to go to secondary school. Families become healthier because of health insurance that guarantees them affordable medical care. For the first time, many of the families they work with have built and owned a home. The list goes on. It is self-sustaining with the community now owning several businesses each of which generates an income and which visitors support.


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